Iran has executed a trader dubbed the "Sultan of Coins" for hoarding gold coins and manipulating currency markets as the country faces fresh USA sanctions and a deepening economic crisis.
The very specter of sanctions, even before they were resumed in August, plunged the Iranian currency market into turmoil and sent the rial plummeting about 70 percent against the dollar, fueling a surge in prices and encouraging illegal trading.
Vahid Mazlumin, known as the "sultan of coins", and his accomplice Mohammad Ismail Qasemi were found guilty of economic crimes and convicted to death sentence by an Iranian court in August.
A second phase of sanctions targeting Iran's energy sector officially started on November 5.
The second man, Muhammad Kazemi, worked in the corruption network Muslimina and was engaged in the sale of these coins. Their convictions were upheld by the Supreme Court in October.
Mazloumin, 58, had been arrested in July for collecting the coins over 10 months to agitate the market. His defense claimed that the Iranian Central Bank did not have any limits on the amount of coins a person could hold. An unspecified number of other accomplices went to prison. Since that time, at least seven people received death sentences.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted that Iran's inflation rate will jump to over 40 percent by the end of the year and that U.S. sanctions will lower economic output down by 1.5 percent this year.
Growing public anger over high inflation, economic hardship, and widespread corruption has led to sporadic street protests in Tehran and other cities, with the demonstrators chanting antigovernment slogans.